Archive for Politics and Government

The 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon

By : May 10, 2015

On April 30, 2015, the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Robert F. Turner published an op ed piece in The Wall Street Journal that purports to dispel myths about the war, but instead perpetuates myths, ignores quite a bit of history, and endorses a relatively recent claim that the Vietnam War was not […]


By : September 23, 2014

“TERROR MONSTERS IN THE CROSSHAIRS!” That sounds like a ludicrous 1950s Hollywood B-movie, and I can almost see the lurid poster, with its determined hero clenching his jaw, the buxom starlet lifting her hands in fear, and the hideous, outsized monster menacing the planet. But this is not a poster. It is the splashy New […]

No good will come of this: Obama’s speech on Islamic State

By : September 12, 2014

President Obama has promised air attacks in Syria, and increased air attacks in Iraq. He sounded disturbingly like President Bush in his September 10th national address, optimistically announcing deeper American involvement in the chaos of Iraq and Syria. “We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL” Degrade, sure. Destroy one organization whose name will probably change […]

August jobs report: good news and bad news

By : September 11, 2014

Two articles in the Sept. 8, 2014, The Wall Street Journal are interesting when read together. 1. Grocery chains and food companies are struggling. Why? Walmart says consumers are concerned with “depressed wages and cuts in federal benefits.” Roundy’s (a mid-west grocery chain) says that the grocery and food businesses are suffering decreased profits because […]

No, Brian M. Welke, the Iraq War was not “worth it.”

By : September 5, 2014

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, an Iraq War veteran tells readers the answer he gives to people who ask whether that war “was worth it.” Depending on who is asking, this question might be about the veteran’s own participation, but most often it is probably about American foreign policy. Was the war worth […]

Film Review: Ai Wei Wei: The Fake Case

By : May 26, 2014

Like all humans, yet far more obviously than most, Ai Wei Wei exists in some indefinable middle ground between being free and being under house arrest. That is true of his life in general, but especially as he waits out probation as depicted in Ai Wei Wei: the Fake Case. In this documentary he appears […]

Edward Snowden

By : October 24, 2013

Edward Snowden is another casualty, in the broadest sense of that word, of whatever Washington is now calling what used to be called the War on Terror, or the Long War. Like American soldiers and Afghan suicide bombers, Edward Snowden knew the personal risks and accepted them to serve what he considered a higher purpose. […]

Theatre Review: Julius Caesar

By : August 1, 2011

Briefly playing in New York as part of the 2011 Lincoln Center Festival, The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Julius Caesar is an energetic version that emphasizes mise en scene rather than the text, and thus emphasizes the outsize political consequences of political power struggles. Personally, I prefer emphasis on language to spectacle, but spectacle […]

Why the UK army wanted to fight in Afghanistan

By : January 19, 2011

If there is a good reason for America’s continuing war in Afghanistan, I have not yet heard it.  On the other hand, there are several bad reasons to continue the war, enough to assure us that it will go on. The British have already figured out that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were blunders, […]

Veterans and Classroom Discipline

By : November 25, 2010

The new Conservative government in the United Kingdom has released its plan for education reform. The Importance of Teaching: The Schools White Paper 2010 (pdf available here) outlines the plans of Michael Gove, the UK’s Secretary of State for Education. The report broadly suggests decentralizing and reducing curriculum requirements (eliminating tangential subjects while setting higher […]